Friday, March 06, 2015

Heartbeats (2010 film)

Written, directed, costume designed, edited, and starring Xavier Dolan, Les Amours imaginaires (Heartbeats) is the story of two friends who both fall for the same man as it complicates their own relationship. The film is an unusual love triangle that involves two men and a woman where it’s the man and a woman that both fall for another man. Also starring Monia Chokri and Niels Schneider. Les Amours imaginaires is a ravishing and evocative film from Xavier Dolan.

The film revolves around this bizarre love triangle between two men and a woman but it’s a film where a woman and a man are in love with the same man. The idea itself is very intriguing as it’s set entirely in Montreal where these two friends meet this young man from the Quebec countryside who arrives to the city as he befriends them both. The relationship becomes complicated once the story progresses as it affects the friendship of Marie (Monia Chokri) and Francis (Xavier Dolan) who are both eager to get the attention of Nicolas (Niels Schneider).

Xavier Dolan’s screenplay is quite simple in terms of creating dramatic tension as well as the complex relationship between Marie, Francis, and Nicolas. It also parallels with testimonials from friends of Marie and Francis about their own love lives and its failures as it would play into the trouble that they would embark in their pursuit of Nicolas. Nicolas is an intriguing individual who shares the same interests of the two but he remains ambiguous about what he wants. That sense of not knowing what he wants only adds to the romantic desperation for both Marie and Francis as it would eventually cause a schism into their own friendship.

Dolan’s direction definitely emphasizes a lot on style but it manages to be so much more as Dolan is aiming for something that is very simple and intimate. There aren’t a lot of wide shots in the film but Dolan’s approach to close-ups and zoom shots for the testimonial moments are very compelling as it plays into the fallacies of love. The compositions that Dolan uses for the film are entrancing from the way he captures love scenes as well as other moments that play into Marie and Francis trying to find ways to win over Nicolas as there’s a lot of slow-motion edits that are used. Also serving as editor and costume designer, Dolan maintains that sense of style in his slow-motion presentation to play into some of the emotional elements of the film as well as some scenes in the parties. The costumes themselves help add a sense of personality to the characters as both Marie and Francis are characters with style as the former is into vintage clothing.

The direction also has this atmosphere into the way Dolan frames all three characters into a scene where it is clear that Nicolas is in the middle of these moments whether he’s watching a movie with them or sleeping in the same bed with them. It plays into Marie and Francis sort of vying for Nicolas’ affections as its second half lead to the three spending time at the country home of Nicolas’ aunt where things do get very complicated. Especially as the drama does become emotional and the close-ups become intrusive to showcase the pain that emerges in this strange love triangle. All of which leads to revelations as well as the need to grow into adulthood as it relates to what people want in relationships and such. Overall, Dolan creates a very engaging and enchanting film about a strange love triangle between a man, a woman, and another man in the middle.

Cinematographer Stephanie Anne Weber Biron does brilliant work with the film‘s cinematography as it maintains something that feels natural in its many interior/exterior scenes with some stylish lighting scenes for some of the parties and intimate moments involving Marie and Francis with their own respective lovers. Set decorator Delphine Gilenas does excellent work with the look of the apartments and homes of the characters that help play into their personalities. Hair designer Philippe Sarfati does superb work with the look of the hairstyle of the three characters which also add character to the film‘s principle players.

Sound editor Sylvain Brassard does amazing work with the sound to create some unique sound textures in some of the parties scenes as well as some of the film’s intimate moments. The film’s soundtrack features an array of eclectic music from pop artists like Dalida, France Gall, and Renee Martel to electronic music from artists like the Knife, Fever Ray, Indochine, and Comet Gain as well as contributions from House of Pain and a classical piece by Johann Sebastian Bach that helps play into the many emotional aspects of the film.

The film’s phenomenal cast includes some notable small roles from Anne-Elisabeth Bosse, Olivier Morin, Magalie Lepine Blondeau, Eric Bruneau, Gabriel Lessard, and Benedicte Decary as friends of Marie and Francis who all provide testimonials about their own thoughts on love while Anne Dorval is fantastic as Nicolas’ mother whom Francis would meet during breakfast as she is also seen at a party of Nicolas as she is such a joy to watch. Niels Schneider is brilliant as Nicolas as this young man who arrives from the country as he is this ambiguous figure that seems to enjoy the company of Marie and Francis while not revealing what he really likes.

Xavier Dolan is amazing as Francis as this young man who falls deeply for Nicolas to the point that he would wear one of Nicolas’ shirts in his head and masturbate as he thinks Nicolas is in love with him. Finally, there’s Monia Chokri in a remarkable performance as Marie as a woman with a taste for vintage clothes who also falls for Nicolas as she tries to win him over through other vintage things as well as her Audrey Hepburn impressions as it’s a very jovial and fun performance.

Les Amours imaginaires is a marvelous film from Xavier Dolan that features great performances from Dolan, Monia Chokri, and Niels Schneider. It’s a film that explores the ups-and-downs about love as well as love triangles where a guy and a girl both fall for a guy. It’s a film that isn’t afraid of being style over substance while it’s also a film that also plays into what young people are looking for the crazy little thing called love. In the end, Les Amours imaginaires is a sensational film from Xavier Dolan.

Xavier Dolan Films: I Killed My Mother - Laurence Anyways - Tom at the Farm - Mommy - (It's Only the End of the World) - The Death and Life of John F. Donovan - Matthias & Maxime - (The Night Logan Woke Up) - The Auteurs #46: Xavier Dolan

© thevoid99 2015


Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, yes, yes, OMG YES!!!

Courtney Small said...

This is easily his most breezy and fun film to date. The plot may not be deep but is it a treat to watch. Just picked up Tom at the Farm this week, the only Dolan film I have yet to see, so I look forward to observing how he handles genre filmmaking.

Brittani Burnham said...

Excellent review! I really need to get on this one, it's been in my Netflix queue for ages and I love Dolan.

thevoid99 said...


@Courtney-I still have 3 films of his to see as one of them is in a tentative list of films I plan to see for my Cannes marathon this coming May.

@Britanni-While so far, I prefer I Killed My Mother for its energy and sense of anarchy but this was still an amazing film.